The Stakes

I peer across the table at my brother. He looks determined, with his glued-together glasses dipping down past the bridge of his nose. Even his mustache seems focused, pensively waiting for his mouth to announce a trigger. We’re in the last game of our series—game five—and it feels like the Pro Tour to me. Yeah, there’s no prize money, or cameras, or table judges, but we do have an audience—our friend Nik—and plenty of pride on the line. While I’ve always gotten along with my brother, and have shied away from the normal bouts of sibling rivalry, Magic is the one exception. We both want to win, even in our casual EDH games where he plays Norin, the Wary and I play Thelon of Havenwood. Not even coin flips and Thallids are enough to quell our competitive urges.

“I’ll play Stormbreath Dragon?” he asks, looking at my untapped mana.

“That’s fine,” I sigh.

I already know how this one is going to end.

The Players


I’ve written a bit about my brother before in a past article, but here are some facts for the uninitiated:

  • I was living way before Eric knew it was a thing. He’s seriously three and a half years behind me regarding time on this earth.
  • He invented his own holiday, called Holiday, that he celebrates every year with his friends. Traditions include reciting R. Kelly songs, finding secret Mentos inside cheese quesadillas, and mandatory speeches by everyone that attends.
  • He is doing his final project in his political science class on the way that pro wrestling comments on cultural issues.
  • One time when we were kids, he got sick of everyone being on the phone, so he cut the phone line and threw it in his closet. Eric Massak is a man of action.

The Decks


Eric's Skred Red

Creatures (10)
Boros Reckoner
Magus of the Moon
Stormbreath Dragon

Planeswalkers (4)
Koth of the Hammer

Spells (23)
Blood Moon
Lightning Bolt
Mind Stone
Relic of Progenitus
Volcanic Fallout
Lands (23)
Scrying Sheets
21 Snow-Covered Mountain

Sideboard (15)
Anger of the Gods
Molten Rain
Pyrite Spellbomb
Shattering Blow
Shattering Spree
Witchbane Orb

*The Stone Rains in the SB are there as Molten Rain proxies.


Shawn's UWR Twin

Lands (24)
Arid Mesa
Cascade Bluffs
Celestial Colonnade
Hallowed Fountain
Sacred Foundry
Scalding Tarn
Shivan Reef
Steam Vents
Sulfur Falls

Creatures (17)
Deceiver Exarch
Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker
Restoration Angel
Snapcaster Mage
Wall of Omens

Spells (19)
Lightning Bolt
Lightning Helix
Path to Exile
Splinter Twin
Sideboard (15)
Anger of the Gods
Rule of Law
Sowing Salt
Stony Silence
Wear // Tear

Since I wrote about UWR Twin last week, I want to shine the spotlight on Eric’s deck, Skred Red. First off, I’m a sucker for snow lands, so any deck that employs them already has my attention. Here the snow lands power up Skred, a cheap and versatile instant-speed removal spell that is capable of killing even the largest Tarmogoyf. In this deck, you get the added interaction of being able to Skred your own Boros Reckoner and ring the final death knell without even attacking. Being that the deck is mono-colored, with only two Scrying Sheets as utility lands, it maxes out on Blood Moons and even drops a few Magus of the Moons to disrupt greedy mana bases and manlands alike. Much like Blue Moon, Skred Red gets a lot of free wins just off the fact that a lot of decks aren’t able to recover from this enchantment—Tron, UWR, Pod, Zoo, and Bogles are all seriously injured by it. Aside from being a Blood Moon deck, Skred Red is really excellent at keeping down creature-centric strategies and has a really two really sweet finishers in Koth of the Hammer and Stormbreath Dragon. Koth not only provides a constant 4/4 attacker, but it also threatens to ultimate in two turns, and even the -2 has use in triggering Stormbreath Dragon‘s monstrous cost. While the inclusion of Stormbreath may seem a bit strange when Thundermaw Hellkite apparently is the gold standard for five-drop dragons, Skred Red is willing to sacrifice the additional power and toughness for a creature that can’t be sent on a Path to Exile.

The sideboard may look a little bit wonky, which I suspect is the fate of many mono-red decks that don’t want to splash for an additional color. If it were up to me I might switch out a few Anger of the Gods, the Witchbane Orbs, and a Boil for two more Combusts and some Thorn of Amethysts. While Anger is much better against Zoo than Pyroclasm is, this deck has plenty of removal for the creature-heavy strategies in the format and could really use a few more outs to Twin (since Skred can’t always kill Deceiver Exarch) and Thorn to interact on some level with Storm. Otherwise, the stuff in the sideboard is there to demolish Affinity (Shattering Spree/Vandalblast), remove Wurmcoil Engines (Shattering Blow), and further punish people trying to play non-basics (Molten Rain). The Pyrite Spellbombs are there to take out Burrenton Forge-Tenders, Master of the Waves, Auriok Champion, and other problematic pro-red creatures.

The Games



If you look at the picture, you’ll notice a Splinter Twin enchanting a Deceiver Exarch. Here’s the thing though: I lost this game. Eric played  Blood Moon midway through the game and for a really long time I was without a blue source. When I was at five life, facing down a lethal Stormbreath Dragon, my deck finally coughed up a basic Island. I quickly played Deceiver Exarch, then attached Splinter Twin to it, all on my main phase, and gave Eric the “do I win?” look. He looks at the board again and asks, “Wait does Splinter Twin give haste?” I lean back in my chair before replying, “No, it sure doesn’t.”

I pack up my cards and sideboard like this:

+2 Spellskite
+1 Wear/Tear
-3 Path to Exile

While Path might have some utility in offing my own creatures to fetch basics when Blood Moon is out, I can’t say I love that plan. The fact that Path doesn’t hit Stormbreath Dragon and has very few other targets leads me to believe I don’t want it in. Wear/Tear destroys Blood Moon and Spellskite protects the combo from Skred or multiple Bolts.

According to Eric’s notes he sided like this:

-3 Pyroclasm
-1 Volcanic Fallout
+2 Molten Rain
+1 Boil
+1 Combust

Eric’s sideboarding here is pretty self-explanatory, I think. Basically he takes out all of the bad red sweepers and plays cards that further disrupt my mana or stop my combo.



Eric got a Koth emblem this game and attempted to ping my Deceiver Exarch to death but ended up just putting me to four after I paid some life to redirect damage to Spellskite. On my turn, the turn before I was about to die, I topdecked Kiki-Jiki and ended up attacking with 42 Deceiver Exarch tokens. (Forty-two being the answer to the universe and everything.)


After keeping a hand with three lands and both Kiki-Jiki/Restoration Angel and the Deceiver Exarch/Splinter Twin combos, I was feeling pretty good about the game. Eric disrupted my initial combo with Deceiver Exarch but couldn’t stop me from winning on turn five with Restoration Angel and Kiki-Jiki. His Blood Moon even helped me cast an otherwise unplayable Kiki-Jiki.


I looked over the blurry picture I took and can’t really tell what happened this game. My notes simply say, “Koth Emblem,” with Eric finishing the game at 20 life.



This game was a slobberknocker. I blew up an early Blood Moon only to have Eric play a steady stream of them over the course of the game. I was locked out of blue mana completely but had a Spellskite with Splinter Twin to protect any creature I could actually play. I managed to start smashing in with a pair of Restoration Angels played off my singleton basic Plains. Eric in turn played a Stormbreath Dragon and started racing me. Since I couldn’t block with Restoration Angel, I had no choice but to try and get there. I got him to five life. I just needed him to miss out on a land drop, otherwise he would be able to monstrous his dragon and kill me (I was also at five life). On his turn he draws, plays a Koth, and I breathe a sigh of relief since I have two Spellskites to block any animated mountains. Instead he -2’s Koth, forcing me to reread the card, and I realize has exactly enough mana to pay the monstrous cost and clinch the game.

If you were to sum up these games with a short phrase it would be: Blood Moon is a beating. While I like UWR Twin over UR Twin because it has a better Plan B, this is one match-up where you can’t implement any plan effectively because of all of the non-basic hate. If you expect a lot of Skred Red, or Blue Moon, it’s probably worth it to consider playing UR Twin or dedicating a few sideboard slots to removing the unfun enchantment.

So there you have it. The younger Massak emerges the victor and I’m 0-2 in the Modern gauntlet I created for this article series. Next week I aim to find redemption or another deck. Only time will tell.

At age 15, while standing in a record store with his high school bandmates, Shawn Massak made the uncool decision to spend the last of his money on a 7th edition starter deck (the one with foil Thorn Elemental). Since that fateful day 11 years ago, Shawn has decorated rooms of his apartment with MTG posters, cosplayed as Jace, the Mindsculptor, and competes with LSV for the record of most islands played (lifetime). When he’s not playing Magic, Shawn works as a job coach for people with disabilities, plays guitar in an indie-pop band, and keeps a blog about pro-wrestling.

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